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For nearly a decade, the space around the former twin towers has been off-limits to the public. That's set to change on Sept. 11, 2011. NBC New York got a rare look at the pedestrian plaza, where visitors will be able to sign up for tickets starting this summer.
Reserving tickets to visit the Sept. 11 memorial will begin in July, as the project is on schedule to open on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks, the memorial foundation president said Friday.
The public will be able to begin visiting the memorial on Sept. 12, 2011, a day after the families of victims attend a memorial service and tour the site, which will feature two waterfalls and the names of survivors inscribed in bronze.
"Demand is strong and we are asking people to make reservations in advance,” Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, told NBCNewYork.
”We are going to go live with our system in July,” he said. It was the first time the memorial had announced when ticket reservations would become available.
He stressed that tickets will be free. Visitors will only have to “pick a date, pick a time, print out their passes and come down,” he said.
For years after the memorial opens, access will be limited to a set number of people and mourners.
Ultimately, visitors will be able to approach the memorial and its green spaces and cobblestone plazas from all sides.
But for years visitors will be surrounded by construction of skyscrapers and a transit hub and may only use one entrance, and organizers will observe strict capacity limits for safety reasons.
Preliminary plans call for a limit of 1,500 visitors at a time, with special consideration being given to the relatives of Sept. 11 victims.
The 1,776-foot 1 World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is being built just northwest of the memorial site and won't open until 2013. Hundreds of trees will still need to be planted, and cobblestones will need to be filled in to the 8-acre memorial plaza after Sept. 11, 2011.
A transit hub is under construction at the site until at least 2015, along with at least one other skyscraper planned for the site.